Okay, the things I keep meaning to write keep getting sidetracked by other things that I need to write. My queue is so confused.
This is riffing off Little Light's The Seam of Skin and Scales, which you should go read, really. I'll wait. (And if you've got a moment, go read her On Cartography and Dissection, too.)
I was talking about this the other day, trying to articulate it, and now that LL is writing about it I need to get it out while it's fresh and real and bloody in my mind.
Judge where the edge of the maps are by where the monsters go. Where, somewhere, the denizens are dangerous, like to kill you or take away your name.
- But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprise of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.
A few years ago, I was at a hearing of the judiciary committee of the legislature, and there were people who didn't agree on where the monsters were. That was fascinating. The subject was, among other things, whether same-sex couples should have access to the ability to legally marry.
There was the legislator who was concerned about what this would mean for the Catholic Church (and I wanted to tell him he should be more worried about what legal divorce means for what the Catholic Church shall be required to accept).
There were the occasional "Gay people are trying to destroy marrriage by getting married" folk, for whom those people who love someone of the same sex were the monsters, the ravening incomprehensible.
Then there was the guy who proclaimed, "If you let these people get married, it will pave the way inevitably to ... polygamy." No, the same-sex couples were on his map, if only on the edge, one of those strange tribal people who are rumoured to eat young missionaries after boiling them with onions. And beyond them, in the wilderness where the people with the heads of serpents live their squelchy lives in the swamp, were the people like me.
Watch the maps. Watch where the bogeymen are lurking, the fractal edges of what counts as known space.